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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Marah's LiveJournal:

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    Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
    11:28 pm
    Zachary Forest Searle
    I am thrilled to announce the birth of Zachary Forest Searle to my brother and his wife. Zachary was born April 19th at 3:19 PM, weighing 7 lbs and 10 oz. He is healthy, and he and his mom are well. avt_tor, mvt, and I are amused and pleased that they named him after Alex's father, who we lost last year. They didn't know Alex's father's name, so this is serendipity; they had wanted an "F" name to honor our mother, Florence.

    Current Mood: thrilled
    Monday, November 30th, 2009
    9:59 pm
    Author GoH!
    I am pleased and excited to be able to announce that Michael Swanwick has accepted our invitation to be the Author Guest of Honour at the inaugural SFContario. Our confirmed guests are:

    Michael Swanwick Author GoH
    Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden Editor GoHs
    Geri Sullivan, Fan GoH
    Karen Linsley Filk GoH

    And a note: Registration rates will increase December 9th so now's the time to register at the SFContario website.

    Current Mood: excited
    Tuesday, November 24th, 2009
    12:03 am
    SFContario is a go!
    SFContario is a go, with a hotel and guests of honour and everything.

    The inaugural convention will take place November 19-21st 2010 at the Ramada Plaza in downtown Toronto. It's a lovely hotel that overlooks Allan Gardens, beautiful greenhouses and gardens that even many Torontonians have yet to discover, and is a stone's throw away from all the restaurants and attractions downtown Toronto has to offer.

    While an announcement for Author Guest of Honour is yet to come we're thrilled to be able to announce that Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden have agreed to be our Editor Guests of Honour, Geri Sullivan has agreed to be Fan Guest of Honour, and Karen Linsley has agreed to be our Filk Guest of Honour. We're pleased, honoured and excited to have every one of them.

    Current Mood: bouncy
    Monday, November 2nd, 2009
    1:09 am
    Hotel Negotiations Can Begin In Earnest!
    SFContario is looking at a hotel proposal. Does anyone have any tips on talking them down in price?

    Current Mood: hopeful
    Wednesday, July 1st, 2009
    10:54 pm
    I Can Haz Pony!
    I went riding with janeg and Andre. I find it truly amazing that an hour or so from downtown Toronto, we are in the country amid horse farms. Fortunately the rain held off and we were able to go trail riding. I was riding Cookie, who is a wonderful horse but who doesn't seem to take to horseback riding as a sport. I have explained to her, to no avail, that her hooves eliminate most of the sports that she might find more entertaining: I seriously doubt that we could find a baseball glove or hockey skates that would fit, so she is pretty much stuck with horseback riding.

    But on the trail she is a different horse: she not only walked without having to be threatened with a crop coaxing, she trotted and even cantered! To put that into perspective, when Jane had asked me what I would do if Cookie started trotting, I said something like "fall over in shock." In fact I have good reflexes and balances, so I was fine even when she started trotting and cantering with no warning. More than fine; it was awesome!

    Now that it's summer and the days are longer, I should be able to ride after work.

    Oh, I don't actually have a pony of my own, but I did get to pet Pearl, who is an adorable foal, and Toy, who is an actual pony.

    Current Mood: tired
    Tuesday, April 7th, 2009
    11:53 pm
    FilKONtario, or This is Why I Don't Sing
    FKO is one of my favorite cons. It's got a wonderful, family, huggy atmosphere. And I was registration staff, which is so much less work than running the con suite (which mvt and I did for the past two years), plus everyone comes over for hugs. Not to mention that the con chair makes sure to publicly praise the concom and staff at the banquet and closing ceremonies, and everyone makes sure that everyone really feels appreciated.

    I got to spend time with people I love seeing, and I got to meet new friends, and get to know people better. The concerts were wonderful.

    Unlike Ad Astra, I was not expected to entrust my car to people about whom I have heard several horror stories, and there were decent restaurants across the street and good restaurants a short drive away.

    But filk takes much more work than general sf. Sure, you can be a listener, but to really participate you have to be able to sing, play an instrument, write songs, and/or perform. And I like to be an actual participant in my hobbies. When ann_totusek discovered a couple of years ago that I actually could carry a tune in a bucket, I started taking singing lessons.

    Two years of lessons later, I know I'm barely C-list on my best day; my delusions of adequacy (at this point I aspire to delusions of talent, but am not *that* deluded) allow me to hope that my singing is no longer cringe-worthy. I haven't written any songs of my own, nor do I have any amusing performances. There is no reason why anyone would want to listen to me with all the talent in the room. If people would rather hear the better singers, I'm fine with that. But the mixed message of people telling me I should sing more but then not actually letting me have a turn was extremely off-putting.

    Current Mood: disappointed
    Thursday, April 2nd, 2009
    12:50 am
    Tuesday, March 10th, 2009
    1:27 am
    Did I Mention that Car Accidents Suck?
    About a month after Arisia, avt_tor and I are in Chicago for Capricon. Capricon is in the northern suburb of Wheeling, but we are in downtown Chicago, because the idiot cab driver listened to me give the hotel name and street address, and respond to his "Chicago?" with "Wheeling." I foolishly assumed that what he put into his GPS bore some resemblance to what I actually told him. Well, it did bear *some* resemblance--apparently the same street address in downtown Chicago is an apartment building. I noted what the meter said as we passed O'Hare on the way back, and when we finally got to the hotel, I got our bags out of the trunk before suggesting that we owed the cabbie what the meter said less the amount it was reading at O'Hare. He claimed that the usual fee to Wheeling was about double that. Alex didn't want to spend the rest of the evening arguing about it, so he gave him most of what he wanted.

    Friday afternoon, we had lunch plans with ann_totusek, madtechie2718, and a couple of Ann's friends. Ann, Alex, and I were in Ann's car, with the others following behind us. We were sitting in the left turn lane when a car comes out of a parking lot, speeds up across two empty lanes of traffic, and t-bones us. No one was hurt, and the other car followed the car that hit us when it looked like they might not stop. They stopped in a different parking lot, so we missed seeing the driver hauled away in handcuffs (no license or registration), but at least our friends got to see it. We did see the car being readied for towing to the impound lot, where the driver will probably abandon it and buy another beater. It's not like he'll get points on his license or have his insurance go up, not having either.

    One good thing: while we were standing around surveying the crunched passenger doors (Alex had to get out on the driver's side), someone called out from a car on the street, asking if we were OK. The guy was an off-duty cop, and he had been a couple of cars back and had seen the whole thing. In fact, he saw the whole thing unfolding, and said "Bang!" out loud. As his wife was asking him why he'd said "Bang!", there was a Bang!

    So instead of lunch, we went to the police station. The police were pleasant and helpful (the off-duty cop had already submitted a report). The chief popped his head in and said hi, and a couple of the cops mentioned that they'd be walking through the con.

    Instead of the interesting restaurant Ann had been planning, we had lunch at Buca de Beppo, which is always good. Then Ann had to arrange a body shop and car rental. Fortunately, her car was able to be fixed.

    Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?, the con went well. A good con, good programming, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

    Current Mood: depressed
    Monday, March 9th, 2009
    3:34 am
    Losing Your Facilities Sucks
    It still hurts too much to write about. I (and so many others) put so much time, effort, and energy into the Seattle bid, and we had our facilities yanked out from under us a week before the filing deadline. A month before, and we'd have been able to find other facilities. After we'd filed, we'd have been able to find other facilities. But that week, and we couldn't file.

    Current Mood: depressed
    3:33 am
    Car Accidents Suck
    I don't usually post whiny, depressed rants, but lately, if it weren't for bad news, there'd be no news at all.

    On January 16th, avt_tor and I were in a car accident on the way to the airport, on our way to Arisia. A guy having a heart attack veered into our lane on the highway and knocked us into the guardrail. We were very lucky to have walked away. Alex wasn't hurt at all. I had a bruised rib and was in pain for a couple of weeks, which is trivial considering what might have happened. I also bumped my head. Alex tried to convince me to go the ER and get it checked out. I know the signs of concussion, though, and I didn't have one. If we got a rental car and continued on to Buffalo, we could get rebooked and hopefully make most of Arisia. If I went to the ER, that window would close. Missing the con would add further injury to injury--also, Boston has lobsters, and I was pretty sure that the ER does not.

    So we gave our report to the policeman at the scene, got towed to the body shop where my husband met us, transferred everything from my car to my husband's, had him drive us to the rental place, and got a rental. Which we couldn't take out of Ontario without permission from my insurance company. Which was closed by now. Andre graciously offered us his car, and took the rental.

    We continued on to Buffalo, managed to rebook for early the next morning, and found dinner and a motel room.

    Arisia was a bit of a blur. I had called the hotel to explain that we needed to cancel for Friday, but wanted to keep our reservation for Saturday. Given the reason why, they graciously allowed this without penalty. But because we were on the party floor, the hotel liaison heard about it, and word spread that we'd been in an accident. When we got there Saturday afternoon, people were glad that we weren't dead. Always gratifying to hear.

    My car was totaled though. Sure, it's only money, our health is what matters. Except it's money I don't have, and with Andre unemployed, it's non-trivial.

    Car shopping is stressful when you need something NOW. I'd already narrowed it down to a Toyota Corolla, a couple of years old, low mileage and in good shape. That was already more than I wanted to spend, but take long road trips in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night, and I need something reliable.

    There were so many similar cars on the Internet that it was overwhelming. I tried the dealer near work, where I'd gone for a couple of oil changes, since they're near work and open late. I browsed new cars, and was completely ignored--I was apparently giving off "poor" vibes. When I looked at used cars, a salesman immediately accosted me. Unfortunately, he was one of "those." He asked me three times if I really wanted a stick (though he mentioned during the test drive that in his country, everyone drives standard except the really rich). So apparently my boobs will get in the way of my shifting gears...I wonder how they deal with that in his country? He also asked if I was going to be the decision maker...um, do you see anyone else? It was subtle, but I doubt he'd have asked a man that question, or doubted what he'd said he wanted.

    I took the test drive anyway. The only standard they had was an '03 (too old) with 97,000 km (too high). It had a new clutch (really? He fucked up the clutch in only 97,000 km?), and the gears ground (what else has this guy fucked up?). So, not the right car from me, and not the dealer I wanted to buy from.

    I went to my dealer, the one I bought my old car from. Night and day! They didn't have any standards, but I found a nice 2006 with 56,000 km, and they treated my like a person, and worked to make me happy.

    Current Mood: depressed
    Monday, January 5th, 2009
    2:36 pm
    Art Really Does Imitate Life
    There are cans of Spam with cartoon Monty Python figures and an ad for Spamalot.

    Current Mood: amused
    Thursday, December 18th, 2008
    9:48 pm
    Majel Barrett Roddenberry...RIP
    *sniff*

    A wonderful lady...I feel very lucky to have had the chance to meet her.

    So many memories...the time she pulled out her personal contact list and made some calls to help us try to replace a GoH who had had to cancel at the last minute...the time she had been autographing for so long that one of the volunteers figured she must be starving and offered her a roll--which she autographed, without missing a beat...and of course, the time our dog got to meet her, (we wouldn't have believed it ourselves if we hadn't seen it, but the dog knew who she was, and went all fandog when she saw her)...

    Her GoH liaison and I chasing after her, while exchanging what turned out to be the *exact* same looks exchanged by Picard and Riker while they were chasing after Lwaxana...then after she accepted that her security team was going to follow her around despite the fact that she'd been doing conventions since I was in diapers (not true--I was 7, well out of diapers), going through the art show with her; her calling us over to see pieces she liked, our finding pieces to show her...

    Seeing her 10 years later and being thrilled that she remembered me...

    The world is a quieter, less colorful place now.

    Current Mood: mourning
    Thursday, December 4th, 2008
    2:29 pm
    Next SFContario meeting
    The next SFContario meeting will take place on Saturday, January 3rd, 2009 from 1:00-4:00 at the North York City Centre Library, second floor, room 2 (note that we'll be in the library).

    North York City Centre is a subway stop, and there is reasonably-priced parking underneath the library.

    Current Mood: hopeful
    Wednesday, November 26th, 2008
    9:54 pm
    Insurance Billboards
    Last weekend in Buffalo, we saw billboards for an insurance company called Independent Health. Their logo is red, and they offer what they call "the redshirt treatment." Different billboards advertise different tests that they provide without a copay.

    Star Trek fans are clearly not their intended market, as I read "The redshirt treatment: $0 Copay for colonoscopy" as "Redshirts get anal probes!" Somehow that doesn't sound like a feature.

    Back in Toronto, Standard Life has billboards proclaiming that "Life is too short to worry about the stock market!" Um, if that's true, I can only conclude that I'm not expected to live long enough to retire. Does that mean I'm a redshirt? But instead of a clean, five-minutes-into-the-episode death, I get anal-probed first?

    Current Mood: worried
    Wednesday, November 12th, 2008
    10:57 pm
    Weird encounter...or, I Can Be a Bitch
    This past Saturday I went to the walk-in clinic/lab to get my usual bloodwork done. When I was leaving, I had just "beeped" the car (ie still outside, but the doors were now unlocked) when a man came towards the passenger side of the car and asked me for a ride. He was a small Asian man, not giving off any kind of a threatening vibe, but my Mommy taught me not to pick up hitchhikers. I also had places I needed to be, and gas has come down but is still expensive. I should also mention that he was standing outside a medical center, so it's not like he needed to be rushed to a hospital. It was also a major intersection on bus routes, and he had a cell phone to call someone who cares about him (assuming the existence of such a person), or a taxi.

    I politely turned him down, and he replied that I must not have understood what he'd said, and REACHED FOR MY DOOR HANDLE.

    I immediately snapped that I didn't care what he'd said, I'd said "NO." It was completely instinctive; I realized later that I'd reacted to his not accepting that "no means no," and to his invading my space (trying to get into my car after I'd told him "no") as a threat.

    He responded that I wasn't very nice. He wasn't worth the time or effort of engaging him, and I wanted to get away from what I perceived as a threat, so I just left. But I almost wish I had told him off:

    WTF? No, seriously, WTF? Who the fuck do you think you are? I was perfectly polite to you until you responded by ignoring my wishes in a threatening way, and *I'm* the one who isn't nice? Oh, and why exactly do you think that I'm required to drop whatever my plans may be to cart your ass to wherever you want to go, and why do you imagine that being nice to you should trump my concerns for my safety? Or matter to me at all? Is this some sort of cultural thing? Did you choose a short, overweight woman because you know that culturally, most women are raised to please men? Or worse, because you thought I looked vulnerable? I know you wouldn't have tried to get into a man's car after he told you "No."

    I've never been the sort of person to assume bad intentions, or to see kidnappers and murderers everywhere, but this *is* the big city, and it's not unheard of for people to be carjacked and forced to empty their bank accounts, or worse. Those people (the ones who survive the encounter) all seem to say that it happened so fast, or that they didn't want to hurt the stranger's feelings. So yeah, I wasn't nice. But Mom would have told me that I did the right thing.

    Current Mood: contemplative
    10:54 pm
    Hippo Birdies
    Happy Belated Birthday to celticmom1967. I hope the coming year (well, technically 363 days) brings you health, happiness, and a couple of small, unexpected luxuries to make you smile.

    Current Mood: festive
    Monday, November 10th, 2008
    9:12 am
    SFContario meeting reminder
    The next SFContario meeting will take place on Saturday, November22 from 1:00 - 4:00 at the North York City Centre Library, second floor, room 2 (note that we'll be in the library).

    North York City Centre is a subway stop, and there is reasonably-priced parking underneath the library.

    Current Mood: excited
    Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008
    12:16 am
    Johnny Rockets
    Toronto now has a Johnny Rockets. Unfortunately, this is Ontario, where all burgers are required to be cooked until they are dry, tasteless hockey pucks medium well or well done. Also unlike the San Jose location, the servers all go up to the front of the restaurant and sing and dance along to the song on the jukebox. The music is loud enough to preclude conversation.

    I was wondering why anyone thought that (seemingly) randomly breaking into song and dance was a good idea, when a possible explanation struck me: I started quietly singing, "I've got a theory, that it's a demon. A dancing demon? Nah, something isn't right there..."

    Current Mood: silly
    12:13 am
    Boston Legal
    Watched Boston Legal last night. Alan Shore wanted to go on a road trip with Denny Crane, who suggested a dude ranch: horses, sitting around the campfire, toasting marshmallows...

    Wait, I saw that movie! avt_tor is wondering whether Alan has a brother we don't know about...

    Current Mood: silly
    Wednesday, October 8th, 2008
    7:48 am
    Next meeting for new SF con in Toronto
    The next SFContario meeting will take place on Saturday, November 22 from 1:00 - 4:00 at the North York City Centre Library, second floor, room 2 (note that we'll be in the library).

    The library is a subway stop, and there is reasonably-priced parking under the building.

    Feel free to pass this along to anyone who may be interested.

    Current Mood: excited
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